7 top home improvements to warm up your home

Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust’s expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

We recommend getting at least three quotes from different reputable installers before carrying out any improvements.

1. Draught proof your home

Draught proofing windows image

Energy Saving Trust research has found that 46% of people still need to draught-proof their windows and doors.

Cost: A good DIY draught-proofing job could costs between £85 and £275 for materials and professional installation for your whole house.

Saving: Draught-proofing windows and doors can make your home a more comfortable place to live and could save you £20 a year on heating bills.

2. Insulate your pipes

Insulating your hot water pipes is a quick and easy way to save energy. As well as reducing heat loss from your system, pipe lagging will also prevent pipes from getting too cold in winter, and therefore prevents pipes bursting.

Pipe insulation is an easy DIY install – you can buy foam insulation tubes online or from a DIY store and slip them over your pipes. In a typical 3-bed semi-detached house, materials will cost around £20, and you will save around £3 a year on your energy bills, as well as reducing the possibility of expensive repair bills from burst pipes.

3. Upgrade heating controls

Smart thermostat image

Room thermostats allow households to set and maintain the temperature at home. A programmer sets the heating to turn on and off at certain times of the day to suit your lifestyle. Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) let householders control the temperature of each radiator.

Cost: Costs can vary significantly due to the variety of heating systems types and sizes and controls available. We recommended comparing quotes from professional installers.

Saving: Installing and using a full set of heating controls means that you can be warm exactly when and where you want in your home. You could also save around £80 a year if you currently don’t have any of these heating controls.

4. Get a new boiler

Modern boilers are more efficient than older models. If your boiler is more than 10 years old it will be far less efficient than a newer model, consider replacing it with a more efficient condensing boiler.

Costs and savings vary depending on your current boiler’s efficiency, fuel type and your house type but fuel bill savings can be significant.

5. Top-up your hot water cylinder insulation

Nearly all UK hot water cylinders have some insulation, however those with a hot water tank jacket under 25mm thick could benefit from top-up insulation.

Cost: A hot water cylinder jacket costs around £16.

Saving: Topping up your hot water cylinder insulation from 25mm to a 80mm jacket could save around £20 a year.

6. Top-up your loft insulation

The majority of homes have some loft insulation but many don’t have enough. The recommended depth is 270mm.

Cost: Topping up your loft insulation from 120mm to 270mm could cost around £240.

Saving: Topping up your loft insulation from 120mm to 270mm will help stop warmth escaping through the roof and could save around £12 a year.

7. Insulate your walls

Although wall insulation is a bigger investment, and costs vary, it can keep your home warm and cosy and result in a large saving.

Most homes built after 1920 have cavity walls. If your home’s cavity walls are uninsulated, adding cavity wall insulation could save up to £150 a year off your energy bills (based on a typical 3-bedroom semi-detached house).

Most homes built before 1920 have solid walls. Solid wall insulation can save around £260 a year off your energy bills (based on a typical 3-bedroom semi-detached house).

More on this…

New £35 million European Funding Call now open to boost rural productivity and create local jobs

Rural businesses across the country are set to benefit from a guaranteed £35 million in government funding to create new jobs, boost tourism, and unlock growth in rural areas.

The government’s Growth Programme provides grants for rural start-ups and businesses to purchase state-of-art equipment and machinery to grow their business or open up opportunities for tourism. The scheme has already granted £99 million to 546 local businesses across England, creating 3,771 new jobs in rural areas.

Farming Minister George Eustice said “Our dedicated fund for rural businesses has created more than 3,700 jobs and supported a diverse group of businesses, tourism operations and start-ups to unlock their full potential. This next round of funding will help more businesses to grow and local areas to prosper – and I would urge any rural enterprise to look into what this scheme could do for them. I would also encourage farmers to consider how they might use this funding to branch out and diversify their businesses, making the most of emerging trends and tastes and looking ahead to new opportunities.”

For this funding round of the Growth programme, the threshold for minimum grants has come down from £35,000 to £20,000, meaning that more small or micro-businesses can be eligible for a grant for their projects.

Paul Caldwell, Chief Executive of the Rural Payments Agency added, “The Growth programme provides funding to the 98% of the rural economy in England that isn’t directly engaged in farming. From heritage railways to creameries and vineyards, small and micro-businesses have benefitted from the investment available under the Growth programme in recent years. We are looking to support applications from businesses with ambitious plans to grow their business and provide wider benefits to their local community. I would urge all interested applicants to submit their expressions of interest as soon as possible to ensure they have plenty of time to complete a full application if their project is assessed to be eligible.”

If you’re a business in a rural area of Berkshire and has the potential to create new jobs, increase business turnover, and improve productivity, then click here for more information and complete the Express of Interest Form.   

If the Rural Payments Agency considers the project to be eligible, the applicant will then be invited to submit a full application. The deadline for all Expressions of Interest is Sunday 16 February 2020.

Surviving Winter appeal from Berkshire Community Foundation

Berkshire Community Foundation (BCF) are running their Surviving Winter appeal – asking people who are able to make a donation to the Surviving Winter Fund, to help local vulnerable people living in fuel poverty. Click this link to donate : https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/displayCharityCampaignPage.action?charityCampaignUrl=SurvivingWinter

CCB has run projects with funding from this crucial funding stream that directly benefits those struggling to pay energy bills in Berkshire. Read more about that here: https://www.berkshirecf.org/case-studies/ccb-surviving-winter/

NEW: Training opportunity for Parent & Carers in Wokingham to learn life saving skills

Would you know what to do if your child was ill or had an accident?

Parents and carers in Wokingham have the opportunity to book on this informative and interactive two hour workshop, facilitated by local charity Connecting Communities in Berkshire, supported by the Wokingham BC Adult Community Learning team.

Babies and children cannot be wrapped in cotton wool but you can have the skills to help them if they need it. In just 2 hours, learn what to do in the vital minutes whilst you are waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

The Tutor is Rachel and she is a qualified first aid teacher from Ladybird First Aid. Places MUST be booked.

Dates & Venue

Saturday 15th February, 9.30 – 11.30am at Finchampstead Childrens Centre. Places MUST be booked and paid for (Cost £12 per person incl VAT): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/84868480911

Tuesday 24th March, 9.30 – 11.30am at Brambles Children’s Centre. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/85087072725

These necessary skills could save your baby or child’s life.

The class covers baby and child first aid from birth to puberty (+/- 11 years old) and includes the following:

Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Recovery Position
Burns and Scalds
Febrile Convulsions
Bumps & Head Injuries
plus lots more…
All attendees of the 2 hour class receive a certificate of attendance. Babes in arms (under 1) are welcome on classes.

Funding Opportunities in December

Bruce Wake Charitable Trust grants

The Trust was established to encourage and assist the provision of leisure activities for the disabled.

The Trustees will consider grant applications related to the provision of leisure activities for the disabled but favour particularly applications whereby the potential beneficiaries meet one or all of the following criteria:

  • The potential beneficiaries are physically disabled wheelchair users
  • Improved access for wheelchair users is proposed
  • A sporting or leisure activity involving disabled wheelchair users is proposed

Applications meeting the above criteria will be considered from charitable organisations. Applications on behalf of individuals will only be accepted through a charitable organisation or equivalent recognised body
All applications should be submitted together with appropriate financial information. 

Find out more about the Bruce Wake Charitable Trust grants

BBC Children in Need main grants

BBC Children in Need has made changes to the main grants programme to make it quicker, simpler and clearer.

Not-for-profit organisations that work with disadvantaged children and young people aged 18 and under in the UK can apply. Organisations must have been active for at least three years and have an income under £2million. 

Grants over £10,000 per year are available to support projects for up to three years.  Capital or building projects are not eligible for funding.

The deadline is 13 January 2020.

Find out more about BBC Children in Need main grants

YOR4Good Fund

Funding to support local voluntary and community organisations undertaking small scale projects which will benefit local communities within the area covered by the YORhub Frameworks. For more information please click here.

Climate Action Fund
Deadline: 18th December, 2019
Grants are available for community-led partnerships in the UK to make changes in their community that they believe will have the biggest impact on climate change.

Greggs Foundation Community Grants – open until 23 February 2020

Not-for-profit organisations developing local community projects are being offered the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to £2000.

Who should apply?

They are interested in projects that improve resilience within the community. This can include sessional activities/respite support, equipment for sessional activities, trips and residential breaks. They are also interested in new approaches and innovative ideas as well as sustainable approaches to supporting your community. They do not fund running costs or continuation of existing and ongoing work. Further details can be found by clicking here.

Masonic Charitable Foundation – Hospice Grants

Widening Access
Grants of up to £35,000 are available to support projects running over a period of 18 months. The grants will seek to address inequality and widen access to hospice care for people experiencing homelessness (or who are vulnerably housed) and people with learning disabilities.
Deadline: 27 January 2020. See link for guidance and how to apply:

The Nineveh Charitable Trust: Countryside & Environment
Schools and not for profit organisations can apply for funding for projects and activities that promote a better understanding of the environment and countryside, whilst facilitating improved access, education and research. Grants are normally less than £5000 per year for 1 to 3 years.  To apply see www.ninevehtrust.org.uk to apply.

The Wakeham Trust
Support for small volunteer organisations that meet the needs or benefit the community.  The trust helps projects that are too new to get support through established funding channels, or which are threatened by national or local policy changes. It generally provides an initial £125 to £2,500 where it can make a real difference. Organisations be registered charities or work with or be supported by a charity who would initially provide a holding account.  thewakehamtrust.org

Leeds Building Society Charitable Foundation

Grants of between £250 and £1,000 are available for registered charities to support community based projects that relieve suffering, hardship or poverty. They are usually for items of capital expenditure which will directly help those in need.

The deadline is 10 February 2020.

Find out more about Leeds Building Society Charitable Foundation

National Garden Scheme – Community Gardens Award
Deadline: 31st December, 2019
Grants are available to amateur gardeners from community groups in England and Wales to create a garden or similar project with horticultural focus for the benefit of their local community.

GEM Road Safety Charity Grants
Deadline: 31st December, 2019
Grants are available to support road safety projects which help to improve the safety of all road users throughout the UK through research, education, engineering or enforcement.

Pocket Parks 2019/2020
Deadline: 31st December, 2019
One-off grants are available for community-led organisations working in partnership with their local authority to create new pocket parks or bringing existing green spaces up to a safe, usable and inviting standard.

War Memorials Grant Scheme
Funds are offered to support for care and preservation of free-standing memorials to a high standard, and to prevent their decay. Individuals or organisations, including councils can apply for grants to a maximum of £30,000 for up to 75% of eligible costs.
Deadline: Apply by 31st March 2020.  http://www.warmemorials.org/grants/

Funding for Community Sports Facilities (England)
Sports clubs, local authorities, schools and community organisations can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £150,000 to enhance local sports and recreational facilities. Funds can be used to enhance traditional sports facilities as well as outdoor spaces like canal towpaths, woodlands and open spaces; etc that can be used as part of an active lifestyle
For details, guidance and to apply see https://www.sportengland.org/funding/community-asset-fund/. Apply anytime.

Daytrippers Foundation – Day Trip Grant 
Grants are available for schools, children’s hospices, support groups, charities and not-for-profit organisations to support recreational and educational day trips for groups of children and young people (aged 5-25 years) who have disabilities and life-limiting conditions, see https://www.daytrippers.org.uk/day-trip-grant/ for details.  Open to applications which must be submitted at least 2 weeks before the date of your trip.  Funds given on a first come basis.

Information courtesy of Wokingham & Bracknell Involve, Slough CVS, West Berkshire Volunteer Centre and Reading Voluntary Action. Thank you!